No. 11 – There’s a Rumbly in my Tumbly

I promise, I can talk about more than food and crafts. In fact, you’ll usually find me babbling about things like my dog, the latest book-to-movie I’m excited about (yay! Hunger Games!), and various TV shows I’m watching (there are too many to count; thankfully, I can multi-task). But, it’s been a while since I posted anything, and since I’m waiting on pictures to post about a hike I took a few weeks ago (we’re worried my roommate’s phone ate them!), I guess we’ll all have to settle for some recipes. I know, I know, it’s a tough life we live. :)

First, let’s go back to that coconut shrimp recipe from Weight Watchers I tried. It was great! The only thing I’d say, is that I really need to stock up on some plain bread crumbs or the cornflake crumbs. All I had were panko breadcrumbs, which are great, but didn’t quite coat the whole shrimp. Otherwise, it was nice having a sweet and crispy shrimp recipe that wasn’t fried! I wish I had had apricot preserves to make some dipping sauce. All I had on hand was some Thai sweet chili sauce, which worked fairly well.

Weight Watchers Coconut Shrimp
Ingredients:

1/4 cup(s) fat-free skim milk
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
24 medium uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
1/2 cup(s) sweetened coconut flakes, chopped
1/4 cup(s) cornflake crumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spray a 10 x 15-inch jelly-roll pan with nonstick spray.

2. Whisk together the milk and flour in a large bowl. Add the shrimp; toss to coat.

3. Place the coconut and cornflake crumbs in a large zip-close plastic bag. Add the shrimp, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat. Place the shrimp in the jelly-roll pan in one layer. Lightly spray with nonstick spray. Bake until the shrimp are golden on the outside and opaque in the center, about 5 minutes on each side. Yields 3 shrimp per serving.

Recently, I’ve been indulging in a few of my classic comfort foods. Mostly sweets. lol. I have a weakness for midnight baking sessions. I have a craving, and next thing I know, it’s somewhere between eight and ten pm, and I’m up until at least midnight, baking cookies or bread. So without further adieu, here’s what I’ve been up to, at midnight.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Notes: Okay, I know everyone has a chocolate chip cookie recipe they swear by, and this is mine. It was my first quarter at the Art Institute (but my fourth year in college), and a few of my dorm neighbors made these cookies and brought them around, to say hello. Kind of like the college version of the neighborhood welcoming committee. Anyhow, these girls were very sweet, and when I asked, they handed over the recipe, and it’s been taped up on my fridge door every since. I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375º. Mix sugars, egg and butter. Add in the flour, soda and salt until mixed thoroughly. Stir in the chips. Drop the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Banana Walnut Bread

Notes: I don’t ever remember where I got this recipe, but I love it. It makes really moist bread, and after a day of rest, there’s that nice, almost sticky glaze on top. You know, the kind you usually see on a thick slice from Starbucks or the bakery. If you’re looking for a bit of a healthier version, substitute the oil for plain applesauce. I found it took about an hour for it to cook all the way through, but that could just be the oven in my new apartment. It always takes an adjustment period to figure out how a new appliance works. I’ve found that my cupcakes always burn on the bottom, regardless of what rack I put them on, and yet, my cookies are always fine. Curious.

Ingredients
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 bananas, mashed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Mix together sugar, oil and egg until blended. Stir in bananas. Add flour, salt and baking soda and stir until combined. Stir in walnuts.
2. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan (or lined muffin tins) and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out of the middle clean.

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread

Notes: I love Joy the Baker. I’ve hardly touched most of the recipes on her site (but I LOVE her peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, which work well for plain peanut butter cookies as well), but all I have to say about this recipe is look at the picture:


Image courtesy of Joy the Baker.

I mean, how could you NOT want that. It bakes up in the scrumptious doughy slices that taste just like a cinnamon roll! The crust is nice and sweet-crisp. It’s amazing. I can’t wait to make more when there’s more than just me eating it. Really. I almost ate the whole thing right away. It was torture waiting for the dough to rise a couple times then bake. TORTURE. Try this one. Really. Then go thank Joy for coming up with this one.

Well, I hope I’ve sufficiently made you love and hate me at the same time. Let me know if you try any of these. I really need to break out a decent camera when I’m baking and get some good pics.

Happy baking!

No. 09 – My Heart Will Go On and On…

Okay, I can’t help but use song lyrics some times for my post titles. I apologize in advance if you hate that song, and now wish you never read my blog so that it wouldn’t be stuck in your head. (It hasn’t really been stuck in my head, but it did pop up on my Spotify radio station the other day…)

Anyhow, Happy Valentine’s Day! I have a lot of friends who either hate this holiday, or are totally blase about it. And I get that. I’m not overly fond of the explosion of Pepto that happens to every place I go to either. However, I do love love, and I do love showing my friends and family how much I love them, and how much they mean to me. No, love shouldn’t only be expressed once a year, but I think it’s nice that there’s a day made to remind us to make sure we are showing our love, which is a sentiment my good (and very crafty) friend Dana shares. Please check out her recent post of Valentine’s ideas! And meet her pug, Popcorn, who is the snarfulliest pug ever. (To snarffle: something only a pug knows how to do best.)

Speaking of Valentine’s ideas, I really want to make this cake!

Heart Cake by i am baker

How COOL is that? I am inspired! I didn’t have time to make it this year, but next year… Or maybe for someones birthday. :) That’d be a nice surprise.

I found this awesome tutorial, by way of Amy Locutro, who is the creator of LivingLocurto, while she was blogging about Pinterest, and why we should (as creative bloggers) protect our images and ideas as well as we can. Very interesting reads, if your interested (which bloggers should be! I do love Pinterest, by the way, but the points Amy makes are very valid!). Anyhoo, her post about Pinterest led me to search out Amanda’s heart cake tutorial, and her site, and I just love it when I find new sites to explore.

Anyhow, I hope you all are having a wonderful Valentine’s Day, and spending it with someone special. Me? I’m spending it with this little guy right here:

Dobby.

No. 8 – I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts…

Okay, so I’ve been a little OBSESSED with coconut recently. I blame work. We just got a new ice cream vendor, and they have these all natural fruit bars by La Michoacana, and one of them is coconut. And it is amazing. Super creamy, lightly sweet, and lots of coconut bits.

I currently don’t have the luxury to hunt these down at a retail outlet, and I had all this coconut milk in my pantry (I have no idea, why, by the way), so I thought… WHY NOT MAKE MY OWN COCONUT ICE CREAM???

I don’t have a ice cream maker, though, but I remember back in middle school, making vanilla ice cream in a bag, along with root beer. Awesome chemistry learnin’ FTW!

So, here’s the recipe I used to make the ice cream (courtesy of David Lebovitz):

Ingredients:

2/3 cup (160 ml) heavy cream
1 cup (250 ml) coconut milk
2 ounces (60 gr) palm sugar, or 1/4 cup white or unrefined cane sugar

(The original recipe also calls for saffron threads, but I don’t have any, and I was looking for a specific flavour, so I omitted it. I also used white sugar.)

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring all the ingredients to a boil.

2. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and chill the mixture thoroughly.

3. Once chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

As I mentioned before, I don’t have an ice cream machine, or hand-churner, but thankfully, David Lebovitz has some directions for making ice cream the low-tech way (not even any rock salt or bags are involved) !

Here’s another recipe for coconut ice cream which is custard-based that sounds yummy!

The ice cream I made turned out really well! It tastes JUST like the bars we have at work. Maybe not quite as rich, but the flavour is there. The only issue I had was with the texture – I started it a bit late, and since I was doing it the low-tech way, I wasn’t able to stay up as late as I would have needed to keep stirring it every half hour. So it’s a bit stiff, but still very tasty! :)

Here are some pics:

Coconut ice cream!

Paired with chocolate ice cream!

Also, I bought some jumbo shrimp, and I fully intend to make use of this Weight Watchers coconut shrimp recipe:

Ingredients:

1/4 cup(s) fat-free skim milk
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
24 medium uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
1/2 cup(s) sweetened coconut flakes, chopped
1/4 cup(s) cornflake crumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spray a 10 x 15-inch jelly-roll pan with nonstick spray.

2. Whisk together the milk and flour in a large bowl. Add the shrimp; toss to coat.

3. Place the coconut and cornflake crumbs in a large zip-close plastic bag. Add the shrimp, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat. Place the shrimp in the jelly-roll pan in one layer. Lightly spray with nonstick spray. Bake until the shrimp are golden on the outside and opaque in the center, about 5 minutes on each side. Yields 3 shrimp per serving.

I hope to try that recipe in a few days. Tomorrow, a friend I haven’t seen in ages is coming over, and I’m making herb-almond crusted halibut! So I’ll share that once I’ve had a chance to try it.

And now I leave you with the scene from “The Lion King” that I’ve had stuck in my head for days:

No.5 – And A New Year Begins

So the holidays sort of bulldozed any time I had to keep up with this new endeavor of mine, so for anyone reading, I apologize. I shall make it up to you by indulging in some of my holiday successes:

1) Halloween! It was fun, orange, and filled with all kinds of treats. For a re-cap, see my previous post. Also, a tip. If you want to make it look like you might have killed someone and then steam cleaned the carpet, splash a little laundry detergent and try your best to clean it with a wet cloth. Then turn on a blacklight, ad watch your friends stare at the revealed stain in wonder. (For those of you interested in the backstory of this little experiment, my roomie accidentally spilled some laundry detergent and we realized as the party started that it look like someone might have lost a fair amount of blood on our brand new carpet…a la TV-crime-scene style.) :D

2) Thanksgiving! I call this a success in that it was a good night filled with family and friends, and just enough food that it didn’t kill me to make it all. Last year, I had challenged myself to make everything myself in one day – the pie, the turkey, potatoes, side dishes, etc…and I did it! This year, I opted to keep the menu a little smaller, and ask for help if I needed it. If anything, I spent most of the day doing nothing and waiting for the right time to start up the side dishes! It’s all about timing. A tip: lists. I love lists. I make lists for almost everything, but mostly when I want to sort out a bunch of info in my head, and I don’t want to forget tasks or things at the store. Since last year, I made a list for the store, the cooking times, and the menu, I knew exactly what to expect this year, and it was easier. Pre-preparing can sometimes really help! I know it seems like common advice, but from someone who only party-plans for her friends that will love her and enjoy themselves even if I think it’s a disaster, I know I feel a lot better when it seems like I have a bit of control. The harder part is about letting go of that control and just letting parties be parties!

3) The Craft Fair! My employer holds an employee holiday party/craft fair every year, and all of the crafty people in my organization get together and sell their wares and generally have a good time. I had heard about it a little late, but still managed to get a table, and thankfully got to share space with a few friends of mine! It is a great, small, almost exclusive craft fair that was good for getting my feet wet. My goal, for the next year, is to build up enough stock in my card-making that I can actually start selling them. Invest in some shipping supplies, and list some things on Etsy. I hope whomever’s reading this may be interested in helping that endeavor. I might actually start selling cards for Valentine’s day. And perhaps a few other crafts I manage to make. Below are a few pictures from the craft fair, just so you can see what I’m all about.

As you can see, it’s mostly all Christmas/Holiday stuff, but, well, it was that time of year! I can’t wait to build up my tools and stock some more and make some more cards!

4) Christmas! I spent it at home, with family and friends, opening presents and making a delicious ham dinner. :) Here’s my mom’s recipe for a ham glaze:

Ham Glaze

Ingredients:

Whole cloves (about 10)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup orange juice

1 8oz can pineapple chunks in juice

1 tbsp corn starch

2 tsp dry mustard (or wet mustard to taste)

Directions:

1) Across the top of your ham, cut lines diagonally  and then crosswise, to make diamonds. In each corner, push a clove in, so they dot the top of the ham. Cook ham per packaging directions.

2) In a small saucepan, mix brown sugar, orange juice, 2 tbsp of the pineapple juice, and the dry mustard. Heat over medium high until it starts to bubble. Add corn starch. Remove from heat.

3) A half-hour away from finishing time, pour the pineapple chunks over the ham, with the rest of the juice. Pour the juice mixture over the ham and continue cooking.

Recipe works for about 1 1/2 pounds of ham.

5) New Years! Usually, New Year’s Eve, we watch the fireworks at the Space Needle. This year, we had some friends over, opened some belated Christmas gifts, and watched “Star Wars” on BluRay.

All in all, it was a great holiday season. I hope you all had a wonderful time as well!

Until next time!